Skip to main content

Full text of "My Country And My People"

See other formats


l88      MY COUNTRY AND MY PEOPLE

flagrante delicto for gambling, and after being released, went to
the capital and demanded the dismissal of the offending police.
An opium house in a city on the Yangtse was searched by the
police and its store of opium confiscated two years ago, but on
the telephone message of an influential local person, the Bureau
of Public Safety not only had to apologize for the slip in manners,
but had to send the opium back with police guards. A certain
dentist who had taken out a tooth for a powerful general and
was therefore invested for life with part of the latter's personal
glory, was once asked for on the phone by the operator of a
certain ministry by his personal name and surname and not by
surname and official title. He went to the ministry, asked for
the operator and slapped his face in the presence of the
ministry staff. In July, 1934, a woman in Wuchang was
arrested for sleeping outdoors with short trousers, because of
the heat, and died consequently in imprisonment a few days
afterwards. The woman, it turned out, was the wife of an
official, and the offending policeman was shot. And so on, ad
infinitum. Revenge is sweet. But as there are women who are
not wives of officials but who may nevertheless be arrested,
the consequence is not always sweet revenge. Confucianism
stands for this, because as early as the Book of Rites there
occurred the phrase, "Courtesy is not extended to the com-
moners, and punishment is not served up to the lords."

Favour was then part and parcel of the Doctrine of Social
Status, and the logical consequence of the Confucian ideal ^
a "personal," "parental" government by "gentlemen." And
was Laotse not right in saying: "Sages no dead, robbers no
end"? Confucius was childishly naive in thinking there were
enough gentlemen in a country to go round ruling the people,
and apparently he miscalculated. In an idyllically simple
stage of life this might work, but in the modern age of aero-
planes and motor cars it must fail, and it has failed
miserably.

The redeeming feature, as has been said, is the absence of
caste and aristocracy in China. And this brings us to Fate.
The feature that makes such apparent social inequality
endurable is that no people are trodden down permanently,
and the oppressor and oppressed take turns. We Chinese